A place where you can make friends for life

A place where you can make friends for life

Squadron Leader Puneet Pareek (retd)Why I joined the Air Force

The Air Force was a career I felt passionately about. It was my first career choice because to my mind (as a young man just out of college) the Defence Forces had an irresistible charm.  It was associated with the uniform and also courage, honour and an opportunity to prove oneself.  It was not your run-of-the-mill career. It was a job that commanded respect from society and gave an opportunity for vast exposure to skills, people and places. It also gave me an opportunity to fly fast jets (in short I was young).

What I learnt

The Air Force taught me discipline and endurance. It gave me an exposure to various professional and social activities. It improved my etiquette and honed my social behaviour. It exposed me to a wide variety of jobs and I met some wonderful people and made friends for life.

Why I left

I decided to leave for personal reasons. These included poor service conditions prevailing at that time, my microbiologist wife’s professional career getting compromised and limited career progression available to me. The salary we were getting also did not compare with what pilots outside the Air Force were earning.

What I miss

I miss regularly associating with like-minded defence colleagues and the social bonding in forces even though, at that time, we used to curse the establishment for organising PT, parade and so many parties.

What it gave me

I learnt to believe in myself and I learnt discipline, which comes in handy even today when I decide to go off drinks to cleanse the system.

(Puneet Pareek, a trained fighter pilot, left the Air Force to join Air India Express. He now takes international flights and lives in Delhi.)

Navin GuliaA place where you can make friends for life

What do you think of a career in the Defence Forces for a young person looking for employment?

I think a career in the defence forces is not meant for everybody. It is perfect only for people with passion. One of the main reasons why a young person seeks employment is to earn a livelihood and for security. The Army, Navy and Air Force give you that. You get the pay. However, the perks they give matter so much more. When you join the forces, as a bonus, you also get a very large group of friends who will stand by you through thick and thin. Till you join the forces, you cannot even imagine the number of people who will always be there for you in life and in life-threatening situations. Compare this to civilian life where most people are there for you only if they need something in return.

Was it just another career choice for you or something that you felt passionately about?

Joining the Army was a passion for me. My father was in the Army. I have grown up in that environment. What more could I have wanted than to wear the same uniform with the same pride as him?

What do the forces give an officer?

What do they not give? A large family of friends and well wishers. An organisation that stands by you. A never-say-die attitude. A spirit to live life to its fullest. Pride which makes you hold your head high always. Empathy for others. A medical, financial and social cover for life. Any other profession can give you an obscene amount of money, but to earn the above perks you will have to join the forces.

What is it that you miss most after leaving?

I miss the friends, the environment, and the challenges.

What are the teachings that stay with men/ women who have served in the forces for life?

The Defence Forces give you a never-say-die attitude. They ensure that you have your priorities clear in life always. They bring in you a disciplined approach and a spirit to live life to the fullest.

Anything else you’d like to share?

A person who wants to earn Rs 11,000 instead of Rs 10,000 would most probably not like the forces. It is a career meant for those who appreciate the better things in life.
(Navin Gulia left the Army after a spinal cord injury paralysed him for life. Despite this, he went on to set adventure sport records, learn gliding, design car controls for differentially abled people like himself and now runs an NGO for street children called ADAA or Apni Duniya Apna Ashiana Welfare Society www.adaa.in.)